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Urban biodiversity management using evolutionary tools


Cities are fully functioning ecosystems and are home to no-analogue communities of species that interact with each other and which are subject to novel urban stressors. As such, biodiversity can evolve in response to these new urban conditions, making urban species a moving target for conservation and management efforts. An evolving urban biodiversity necessitates integrating evolutionary insights into management for these efforts to be successful in a dynamic urban milieu. Here we present a framework for categorizing urban biodiversity from a management perspective. We then discuss a suite of example management tools and their potential evolutionary implications—both their opportunities for and potential consequence to management. Urban ecosystems are proliferating but, far from being ecological lost causes, they may provide unique insights and opportunities for biodiversity conservation. Determining how to achieve urban biodiversity priorities while managing pest species requires evolutionary thinking.

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Fig. 1: Illustrating potential management tools in multiple evolutionary scenarios for four management targets.


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We thank B. Rosenblum, T. Jenkinson, O. Hernández-Gómez, M. Womack, M. Grundler, A. Rothstein, A. Byrne, K. Klonoski and C. Noss for providing critical feedback on this manuscript. The ideas in this manuscript benefited from conversations with M. Alberti, E. Carlen, S. Des Roches, K. Dyson, T. L. Fuentes, L. Guderyahn, G. B. Pauly, C. E. Santoro, C. J. Schell, O. J. Schmitz, H. B. Shaffer and I. Wang. We thank B. Verrelli for feedback that improved this manuscript.

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M.R.L. initiated the project. Both authors contributed to the writing and editing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Max R. Lambert.

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Lambert, M.R., Donihue, C.M. Urban biodiversity management using evolutionary tools. Nat Ecol Evol 4, 903–910 (2020).

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